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5 The Campaign

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

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The Campaign

As a young boy growing up in Angola, Indiana, Bill Munn took an active role in his family’s support of the Democratic Party. Wearing a tiny straw hat, Munn handed out pamphlets urging people to vote for Adlai Stevenson in his 1956 presidential run against incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower. Four years later, Munn’s father served as coordinator of John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in Steuben County. When Lyndon Johnson battled Republican Barry Goldwater for the presidency in 1964, Munn went door-to-door handing out brochures extolling Johnson’s candidacy in a county that was a hotbed of GOP activity on Goldwater’s behalf. “By the time I went off to college,” said Munn, “I already had a lot of political experience.”

At Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, Munn decided to major in political science and history. “When I got to Ball State, I’d go anyplace to a [political] meeting. I’d love to hear people talk about politics,” he said. In the spring of 1968, as many of his friends became enthralled by Eugene McCarthy’s stand against the war in Vietnam, Munn found himself attracted to Robert Kennedy’s advocacy on behalf of African Americans and working people. “McCarthy had done a great service in tackling Johnson,” Munn said, “but he was like a one-horse candidate, and I never did quite figure out if he was opposed to Johnson or opposed to the war.” Munn volunteered to aid Kennedy’s attempt to win Indiana’s sixty-three delegates to the national Democratic convention by running in the state’s May 7 primary.

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6 The New America

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

ADLAI STEVENSONS LANDSLIDE DEFEAT IN THE 1952 PRESIDENTIAL contest to Dwight D. Eisenhower had a demoralizing effect on John Bartlow Martin for months after the election. Martin tried to get back to his freelance writing career, traveling to Cleveland, Ohio, to do his usual heavy-fact legwork for a McCall’s magazine assignment, but he had “no heart” for the story and abandoned the effort, returning home to Highland Park. “It was the only time I ever did that,” said Martin. “I felt ill. I had not realized fully how emotionally involved I’d been in the Stevenson campaign.” Eisenhower’s elevation to the presidency, said Martin, had been a “repudiation of everything I believe in. All my life I have believed and tried to write certain ideas; Stevenson articulated them as a candidate; the people rejected them.” He felt nothing but contempt for the advertising business that had helped to elect Eisenhower and the “implication you can sell a president precisely the same way you sell soap.” Although he had always loved the United States and its people, his feelings after the election were so negative that he felt like “a stranger in my own country.”1

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1 A Landmark for Peace

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

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A Landmark for Peace

The Indianapolis parks and recreation department is responsible for administering approximately two hundred properties stretching over more than eleven thousand acres in the central Indiana city. One of these properties, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 1702 North Broadway Street on the city’s near north side, has within its fourteen acres the usual recreational components for an urban park—a basketball court, playground, softball field, picnic shelters, and an outdoor pool. As Center Township residents while away the hours at play, their eyes are no doubt sometimes drawn to one of the park’s most intriguing features, a sculpture titled A Landmark for Peace created by Indiana artist Greg Perry and placed in the park in 1995.1

The memorial, which is located at the park’s south end and includes in its construction guns melted down in a gun-amnesty program, features two curved panels facing one another. Near the top of each panel is a figure of a man with an arm and hand outstretched toward, but failing to touch, the other. The men depicted in the sculpture—neither of whom is alive to help bridge the racial gap that still exists today—are the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and the former junior U.S. senator from the state of New York Robert F. Kennedy. By chance and the vagaries of a political campaign, the two are forever bound together in the park, and in Indiana and American history as well.

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2 A Mean Street in a Mean City

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

FOR MORE THAN A DECADE, AS THEY STRODE ALONG THE sidewalks on the Circle, the center of Indianapolis’s original Mile Square plat, people craned their necks to peer over a high wooden fence plastered with posters advertising theater offerings, hoping to catch a glimpse of a structure destined to dominate the city’s skyline for years to come. On May 15, 1902, the city’s citizens, along with visitors from all over the state and nation, crammed downtown streets for the formal dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Built of gray oolitic limestone from Owen County, Indiana, at a cost of approximately $600,000 and standing 284 feet tall, the edifice honored “Indiana’s Silent Victors,” the average Hoosier soldiers who had given their lives in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. “They are my best beloved,” intoned Civil War veteran Lew Wallace, presiding officer for the dedication ceremonies, “who, in every instance of danger to the nation, discover a glorious chance to serve their fellow-men and dare the chance, though in so doing they suffer and sometimes die.”1

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Appendix: Robert F. Kennedy’s Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968

Ray E. Boomhower Indiana University Press ePub

Appendix: Robert F. Kennedy’s
Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some very sad news for all of you. Could you lower those signs, please? I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black—considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible—you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization—black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

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